Plot: Set in 1979, a group of kids witness a horrific train accident while trying to film a movie. The military arrives to cover up what was inside the train as bizarre events start occurring all over town because of it. The Deputy (Kyle Chandler) tries to figure out what’s going on while his son Joe (Joel Courtney) and his friends were the ones who witnessed the crash but can’t discuss it.
The marketing campaign for Super 8 is far more interesting than the movie itself. This isn’t a bad movie. It’s okay. I really don’t want the pretentious and mysterious trailers to affect my review, but I can’t help but think director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg pulled a carnival con-job on all of us with this thing. And I barely had expectations for this movie, but still left disappointed.
The first 20 minutes are great. We get a nice introduction to all these kids with a wide range of personalities. It’s funny, it’s entertaining, and all the kid actors do a bang up job, especially the main guy Joe, played by Joel Courtney. He carries the movie at a very young age. He and Elle Fanning have good chemistry together, and that is easily the biggest relationship in the film. I like that I can appreciate the characters rather than the gimmick that comes into the movie later on.
The train crash is also an incredible sequence. It’s just complete chaos and looks really thrilling on screen. It’s a perfectly directed scene by Abrams. The mystery element begins to come into play after the crash, and that’s where the movie starts to plummet faster than an ACME anvil.
I respect Abrams for trying to keep most of the film a secret. In a world where movies get 5 trailers and 25 clips before they are even released, it’s refreshing to not predict the entire film a month before it opens. It’s what I appreciated about Inception. But here’s the problem. Once I’m actually in the movie theater watching the movie, can you please start to tell me what it’s about? Anything at all? Abrams literally keeps everything a mystery until the last 10 to 15 minutes, and by that point, I just didn’t care anymore. The movie trots along for over 90 minutes, and I was losing interest by the second. Nothing happens but random attacks with random clues that tell you nothing. Why do I care! Now at least there’s good characters to keep me interested, but it’s not enough. It all wears thin. You have to give the audience some kind of cohesive hint of what this all means. You can’t meander for over 90 minutes!
What really pisses me off is that some of the clues have no relation to what happens at the end. Nothing! What the hell? It’s just random bull shit. And let me just get this out of the way. The big mystery of what this all is sucks. It’s horrendous. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be ‘yawn.’ It’s not that I’m pissed about the end result. It’s that, combined with how everything was presented and put together. It’s so average and run of the mill, but the director desperately wants you to believe it’s important.
And the action later on is no where near as interesting as the train crash at the beginning. There’s a point towards the end where the kids are running through a warzone and it just looks silly. Not only that, but the movie was a lot funnier in the first half, whereas later it becomes a bunch of lame pot jokes.
The kid actors did a good job, but the adults brought nothing to the table. I was really disappointed with Kyle Chandler’s performance as the Deputy. One of the big sub-plots revolves around the death of Joe’s mom, and how he and his dad have never been close, but are now forced too. The story was effective for the most part, but Chandler gives a pretty average performance.
I’m curious to see how audiences will respond to this. When I saw it, I felt an aura of disappointment as everyone walked out with a nonchalant attitude and not really saying anything. If you’re the type of person who’s coming into this thinking the Holy Grail or Chewbacca on steroids is inside that train, in other words, you’re there strictly for the mystery, I would stay away. You will be extremely disappointed. I just came into this like any other movie. I would have had the same reaction even if there weren’t all these annoying commercials of ‘Ooooooooooo, what is this all about? You better come see it to find out!’ The characters are okay, but they can’t sustain the entire film. The plot is a total joke and refuses to tell you anything mildly interesting or important until the last ten minutes, but by then, I couldn’t care less.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Passable Entertainment)